The new ‘Mission: Impossible’ is a surprising cinematic feast
Thanks to Tom Cruise’s death-defying stunts and Christopher McQuarrie’s directorial prowess, you’ll be on the edge of your Soho House screening room seat
Saturday 8 July 2023 By Hanna Flint
For the seventh time, Tom Cruise is offering audiences a new Mission: Impossible movie, should they choose to accept it. If my opinion is worth any salt, they really should, because Dead Reckoning – Part One is a high-octane, blockbusting vehicle for Cruise to do what he does best: risking his neck to deliver glorious stunts for our collective entertainment.
It’s truly wild how far this franchise has come since its 1990s spy thriller origins. Brian De Palma’s 1996 film was the perfect suave and sexy continuation of the Mission: Impossible TV series. It introduced Cruise’s Impossible Mission Force agent Ethan Hunt, but pulled the rug out by killing off his entire IMF team in the opening scenes and framing him for their murder. The original TV cast weren’t exactly happy with this cinematic divergence – especially the treacherous turn of original IMF team leader Jim Phelps (played by Peter Graves in the series and Jon Voight in the film) – but De Palma ensured some classic MI trademarks were carried through, like the penchant for scientifically confounding gadgets and tech, as with those infamous masks of disguise. Not to mention inventive spy game sequences, such as the wire work Cruise performed as Hunt breaking into the CIA’s so-called impenetrable vault.
That was a cinematic vibe shift if I ever felt one.
Ever since, Cruise has upped the ante for how exhilarating the Mission: Impossible franchise could get. Even if, in some cases, the storytelling took second place to the imaginative stunt plotting. Mission: Impossible II certainly has its narrative problems and plot holes – that’s what you get when your three-and-a-half-hour cut is condensed to two at the insistence of the studio – but John Woo’s second instalment gave us Hunt free climbing on Dead Horse Point in Utah to the sound of Zap Mama’s ‘Iko-Iko’.
Despite Woo wanting to use stunt doubles, Cruise adamantly demanded to do his own feats of practical action to make them as seamlessly realistic as possible. Each subsequent film has benefited from that death-defying commitment, not to mention the actor’s impressive ability to sprint like he’s trying to win the Olympic 100 metres. JJ Abrams certainly made use of Cruise’s quick feet in Mission: Impossible III by having him hot-foot it away from a strafing drone and throwing him into the side of a Dodge Stratus as it blew up nearby. Hunt’s survival skills are continuously put to the test. It’s one thing to tempt fate, another to slap it in the face.
From scaling the Burj Khalifa in Ghost Protocol and hanging from the side of a plane as it takes off in Rogue Nation, to that insane HALO jump in Fallout, Cruise’s fearless devotion to delivering escalating stunts is more than admirable – it’s exceptional. With Dead Reckoning – Part One, once again, he and long-time Mission: Impossible filmmaker Christopher McQuarrie have kept their promise to audiences expecting to sit on the edge of their seats, gawping at the screen and digging their nails into the armrests.
The plot for this new world-threatening sojourn involves an ominous AI weapon of mass destruction. Hunt and his team – Ving Rhames’s Luther, Simon Pegg’s Benji and Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa – must race around the world to find the keys to the tech before they get into the wrong hands and global terror is all but ensured. The film has cheesy over-the-top dialogue, a fresh brunette supporting star for Cruise to flirt with (welcome, Hayley Atwell), and a techno party for the goodies and baddies to spar in. But, of course, it’s the spectacular action that’s worth the ticket price.
Cackle as Hunt and professional thief Grace (Atwell) try to steer their way out of a Rome car chase in a vintage Fiat 500. Wince as he battles Pom Klementieff’s manifestation of chaos, Paris, in a tight Venetian alleyway using close combat. Marvel at the sight of the iconic agent riding a motorcycle off a cliff and parachuting towards the Orient Express. The camera catches a close-up of his face showing a childlike glint in his eyes that reveals, for a moment, the actor behind the performance having the time of his life.
‘When you look at this movie, it really defines what I think about cinema,’ Cruise said recently. If that definition is unrelentingly innovative and benchmark-pushing for adventures designed to be seen on the biggest screen possible, then go ahead and put it in the dictionary, because Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning – Part One is worth every bang for its buck.
Visit our screenings page to find out where you can watch Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning – Part One and see our full film schedule at the Houses.